People remember ads more when they binge on TV shows

July 15, 2014
July 15, 2014

Watching huge blocks of a given TV show all at once is becoming the new normal, and that could be beneficial to advertisers. Binge viewers pay more attention to advertisers than people watching TV in smaller increments, according to a new study.

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Keep in mind that this data is self-reported, and the respondents didn’t say whether they remembered the advertisement negatively or positively. This study identified binge viewers as people who frequently watched three or more episodes of a show in one sitting. The viewers I labeled above as “normal” said they don’t do that on a frequent basis, but they’re actually a minority. Binge watchers accounted for 63% of respondents in this study.

A binge watching audience is different than the traditional one because binge viewers are more invested in the content on the screen, and that includes the ads, said Pamela Marsh, director of primary research and insights for Annalect, which conducted the study.

This finding might have limited benefits for now. Netflix, which 25% of binge watchers in this study preferred, doesn’t have ads now and has repeatedly said that it will stick to a subscriber model.

But services like Hulu and cable operators, which combine subscription and on demand services with ads, could take advantage of the higher attention span. Ben Winkler, the chief digital officer and chief innovation officer for OMD, an Omnicom media agency, wants advertisers to recognize that a viewer is spending an extended period of time with a show, and help facilitate that.

So instead of a standard ad, he said, you might see something like, “Hey, you’re entering episode three, maybe you want some cheesy flatbread.”

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